The inevitable has at last happened. Nestled in among the England vs. Netherlands game last night, Aston Villa announced their parting of ways with Remi Garde, ending one of the worst manager/club link-ups in the history of English football.
Don’t get us wrong, the Frenchman is not a bad coach, but he was always on a hiding to nothing in the Midlands, and his return of just THREE wins in all competitions is as unsurprising as it is worrying. Such a poor record leaves the trap door gaping below the Villans, and with teams such as Leeds having slid into the abyss in recent memory, who knows what’s in store at Villa Park.
This all begs the question of who would be willing to replace Garde in the hot seat. Survival this season is all but mathematically impossible, so it’s more a matter of who could return lift Villa back to the top flight at the first time of asking.
With that in mind, here are FootballFanCast’s FIVE favoured candidates.
He created the blueprint for a Leicester City side that are now favourites for the Premier League title, not only guiding them through the ever-problematic Championship but also securing top flight survival with that ‘great escape’ at the end of last season.
Provided he’s backed up by similar expert recruitment at Aston Villa, Peason a pretty strong candidate for the job – especially considering he’s well-versed and well-connected in the lower tiers from spells with West Brom, Carlisle, Southampton and Hull.
Villa need to rediscover their identity and Pearson offers one of traditionally direct yet entertaining football. But the 52-year-old’s media meltdowns – particularly the ostrich rant – are hard to forget and he’s perhaps not the most exciting of appointments.
Sean Dyche knows the Championship like the back of his hand – he’s currently on course to achieve a second promotion in the space of three years with Burnley following their relegation from the Premier League last season.
He’s never hidden the fact the Clarets play largely attritional football, but instead lets the results speak for themselves; losing just 47 and winning 69 of his 167 games in charge at Turf Moor; and refusing to spend big upon their first season in the Premier League is already proving to be a real masterstroke.
The 44-year-old has proved his capabilities when allowed to implement a long-term plan but with his Burnley project heading back to the top flight, convincing him to quit the club this summer will take a very special offer.
Garry Monk may lack Championship experience as a manager, but he made over 100 second-tier appearances during his playing days and offers a commitment to attacking football that would provide a welcome break from the norm at Villa Park.
Indeed, former managers like Roberto Martinez and Brendan Rodgers have helped forge the 37-year-old’s philosophy and although his Swansea tenure ended on a very sour note, they were playing some of the best football in the Premier League the year previous.
The Championship should be a breeding ground for young English managers and Monk is one of the best and most proven around at the minute. But the former defender is yet to prove he can work with players of lesser quality or build his own team – two challenges he’ll certainly face at Villa Park.
Roberto Di Matteo is a talented manager who offers experience at diverse levels of the game. He earned promotion from the Championship with West Bromwich Albion after impressing in League One at MK Dons and later went on to lift a Champions League title with Chelsea – followed by an unspectacular spell in charge of FC Schalke.
Currently unemployed, a return to English football would appeal to the former Italy international and although they’d be in the Championship, Aston Villa’s magnitude and reputation may be just enough to secure his services.
But Di Matteo has never quite found his level in management – whether he’s a Champions League or Championship gaffer – and in that regard represents a bit of a risk.
If Aston Villa are targeting a long-term appointment over a short-term fix, then they could do a lot worse than investing their time and money in MK Dons manager Karl Robinson.
The 35-year-old has been in charge of the Dons since 2010 and following a succession of play-off finishes finally secured their promotion to the Championship last season, where they are now just one point away from safety despite having the smallest wage budget in the league.
A devotion to working with young players and employing a technical style of football make Robinson all the more appealing. But lacking experience at the top end of the Championship, let alone the Premier League, Villa can’t expect instantaneous success under the Mersey-born gaffer.